In 1947, Texas City was booming, bristling with chemical and oil plants built to fuel Europe's seemingly endless appetite for raw materials. In April, two oceangoing freighters holding a combined 3,000-plus tons of ammonium nitrate exploded. The effect was cataclysmic. Thousands of people were wounded or killed, the fire department was decimated, and planes were shot out of the sky. The blast broke windows in Houston, forty miles away, and rattled a seismograph in Denver. Chaos reigned: President Truman dispatched the National Guard, the New York Times sent its war correspondents, and the FBI launched an investigation.
After a heroic recovery and massive relief effort, the brave residents of what had once been an average American town attempted to restore their lives. But they had to confront the possibility that the tragedy might have been caused by the very government they thought would protect them. And for the first time, average citizens confronted their government in the nation's highest court.
City on Fire is a painstakingly researched saga of one of the most profound, but forgotten, disasters in American history.